Ontario Finance Minister Says Storefront Dispensaries Coming to an End

The Toronto Star is reporting that the Ontario government has created a working group to determine how legal cannabis will be distributed and sold in the province, and it likely won’t be through independent dispensaries.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa said the group is made up of staff from his office, the Ontario Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Ontario Attorney General.

“We’re working with the feds. With their commitment to legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana, we are going to work with them,” Sousa said. “We’ve begun some research and background [work] already in terms of what Ontario’s approach should be.”

Sousa said the process is complex, with different viewpoints and input from the separate ministries.

“We’re at it. We’re close. But I don’t want to jump the gun on any of this stuff . . . because I want us to take a steady approach as to what’s ultimately going to take place,” he said.

Sousa said he wanted to send a signal that independent cannabis dispensaries will soon be a thing of the past.

“I, at least, don’t see that being the distribution mechanism. It’s going to have to be controlled,” he said. “Marijuana possession and trafficking, it’s illegal.”

Premier Kathleen Wynne has previously advocated for cannabis sales to be confined to the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.

“We’ve got a lot of experience already when it comes to regulating alcohol, regulating tobacco [and] regulating gaming,” Sousa said.

Liquor Control Board of Ontario senior communications consultant Genevieve Tomney said the organization is watching the legalization process, closely.

“Should decriminalization of recreational marijuana occur at the federal level, LCBO would take direction from the provincial government as to any role it may have in retailing cannabis,” Tomney said.